Danish offshore wind giant Ørsted has made a final investment decision to proceed with the development of a renewable hydrogen demonstration project which will be powered by two offshore wind turbines.
After years of increasing its dominance as a world leading offshore wind developer, Ørsted has lately been investigating ways in which its offshore wind assets can diversify the company and power the production of “green” or renewable hydrogen.
Ørsted is already part of two consortiums which are investigating the role that renewable electricity generation, specifically offshore wind, can play in production hydrogen – known as green hydrogen.
In February 2020, the Gigastack project – which includes Ørsted and a group of other companies – received £7.5 million in funding from the British Government to proceed with the next phase of the project to use electricity generated from electricity generated by Ørsted’s Hornsea Two 1.4GW offshore wind farm to produce hydrogen.
In August 2020, Ørsted was part of another consortium in Germany, named H2 Westküste GmbH, which received backing from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy to build a 30MW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen from electricity generated by an offshore wind farm.
“The funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economíc Affairs and Energy to the Westküste 100 project is a significant step forward for our hydrogen business,” said Martin Neubert, Executive Vice President and CEO, Ørsted Offshore, speaking in August.
“Westküste 100 is our third hydrogen project – and the first one in Germany – found eligible for public funding, and we’re very excited about the prospects of supporting heavy industries and heavy transport with clean alternatives based on renewable hydrogen.”
In fact, by the time of writing, Ørsted revealed that over the past 18 months it had partnered with different consortia in seven renewable hydrogen projects in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The company’s commitment to producing green hydrogen finally began to take shape this week after Ørsted announced on Wednesday that it had taken final investment decision on the Danish green hydrogen demonstration project H2RES which will use the company’s two 3.6MW offshore wind turbines at Avedøre Holme in Copenhagen, Denmark to power an electrolyser to produce green hydrogen by the end of the year.
The H2RES demonstration project will serve as Ørsted’s first renewable hydrogen project in operation and marks the first concrete step in the company’s “green journey, where the power of offshore wind will be harnessed to decarbonise society beyond direct electrification, offering a path towards zero emissions for otherwise hard to abate sectors.”
As demonstration projects are wont to be, H2RES will start out small, with a capacity of only 2MW and produce up to 1,000kg of renewable hydrogen daily. The hydrogen will then be used to fuel road transport in Greater Copenhagen and on the Danish island of Zealand.
Importantly, Ørsted expects that the project will begin producing its first hydrogen in late 2021.
“We see renewable hydrogen and other sustainable fuels as cornerstones in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and H2RES will contribute with key learnings to turn Europe’s ambitious build-out targets for renewable hydrogen into a new industrial success story,” said Martin Neubert.
“With the right framework in place that incentivises the shift away from fossil fuels, renewable hydrogen can decarbonise transport and heavy industry, which is paramount to creating a world that runs entirely on green energy.”
“Renewable hydrogen will be a cornerstone in achieving Denmark’s ambitious decarbonisation target,” said Anders Nordstrøm, Vice President and Head of Ørsted’s hydrogen activities.
“H2RES is an example of how public co-funding coupled with a committed hydrogen industry and ambitious offtakers can drive the decarbonisation of the transport sector.
H2RES is a small but important step towards large-scale renewable hydrogen production, and it will allow us to demonstrate how offshore wind combined with onshore electrolysis can offer decarbonisation beyond direct electrification.”
Ørsted’s H2RES project may also prove beneficial to Australian hydrogen plans, with the potential to act as a global proof of the legitimacy of green hydrogen.
Australia’s hydrogen strategy initially received a commitment of $AU370 million to advance the country’s hydrogen industry, and though efforts failed to ensure a commitment to produce hydrogen only from renewable energy sources, the strategy nevertheless aims to “integrate more low-cost renewable generation, reduce dependence on imported fuels, and help reduce carbon emissions in Australia and around the world.”
Australia also hopes to establish ‘Hydrogen Hubs’ for production and export of hydrogen to the country’s major energy trading partners throughout the Asia Pacific region. A clutch of recent hydrogen activity even served to push Australia to its highest position ever on the Ernst & Young (EY) Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index.
In September 2020, Australian researchers at the University of Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources discovered a way to combine solar PV and water harvested from the air to produce low-cost green hydrogen.
In November, plans for a massive green hydrogen production facility in Western Australia came a step closer to realisation after it secured an agreement with Western Power to undertake initial studies for new transmission network link.
Japanese giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in November bought a stake in H2U Investments, the holding entity of H2U Group, which includes the Hydrogen Utility, or H2U, whose current projects include the South Australia government-backed $250 million Eyre Peninsula Gateway Hydrogen Project.
At the same time, Australian energy utility Origin Energy flagged plans to develop a huge 300MW electrolyser in Townsville and production of more than 36,000 tonnes of green hydrogen a year for the export markets.
While in December Australian renewable energy developer CWP Renewables joined a group of seven of the world’s biggest green hydrogen project developers and partners to launch the Green Hydrogen Catapult initiative, which is targeting the deployment of 25GW through 2026.
Australia is banking on creating a global export network for its many and varied hydrogen production plans, and in November the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney launched a study designed to test the viability of establishing a renewable energy-based hydrogen supply chain between Australia and Germany.
“The great renewable energy potential, infrastructure and energy exporting expertise, together with the manufacturing excellence and energy import needs of Germany, presents these countries with an ideal opportunity to establish a hydrogen value chain partnership that combines their comparative strengths and interests,” said Associate Professor Iain MacGill, who will lead the study.
“However, there are still considerable challenges, with associated uncertainties and risks, to overcome.
This study will help us jointly plot a pathway to address these challenges and seize the opportunity for a vibrant renewable hydrogen sector in and across these countries, and beyond.”